Sunday, July 31, 2011

Learning Experiences, Part II


Remember my post back during the A-Z challenge about Learning Experiences and how I go through many drafts and trials and errors before my final projects are ready to go?

Add one to the list.

Yes, I had hoped that the steps I took last Friday were the first steps to the final product, but that, alas, is not going to be the case.  Since that time I have been pinning, cutting, snipping, stitching, trimming, and sneezing (satin sheds little dusty fibers like nobody's business) my head off with not-satisfactory-enough results, alas.

Now this is what the first layer of the garment looked like when I'd finished putting together all the pieces.  It was to be the inner layer, but it looked so nice on the dress form that of course I took a picture in my inspiration.

This is what it looked like after I repeated the same process for the outer part of the garment and my third muslin lining, and put them altogether, necessary trim included.  Notice the difference?

Problem #1: Do you see how the bottom part of the edge is sloping severely outward from the waist to the hip?  That is not a trick of the camera angle, my friends.  That's pretty much how it actually turned out.

Somehow, one of the two lavender linings ended up being extremely shorter from edge to edge than the other two.  I'm still not exactly certain how because it felt like I repeated the same process (and, more importantly, in-seams) exactly the same way all three times.  As a result, I did my best to try and line everything up with reference to the smallest layer, but that just made everything terrible and out of line.

(One thing I did wrong was not to cut out the very back of the shirt on the seam, which meant I had to sew two pieces together that otherwise would've been a single piece and that was one more seam to throw off the consistency of the three layers in the final lie).

The error in size is the biggest reason that my first attempt did not work out, but there are others:

Problem #2: I didn't really understand the best way to make the trim turn a corner, and not only ended up with those unsightly gaps you see there but the bias tape I was using for this bit had the raw edge up on the horizontal section.  

(I have since figured out a very good way to turn the corner.  It involves seam-clipping, of a sort, a trick of physics and geometry that I am coming to respect more and more with each passing day).

Problem #3: (More of a nitpick, really, but a strong one).  The combination of pink + lace actually ended up working really well, as you can see on the neck lining above, but the lace I chose is really a bit too narrow and you can't see it well.  I have a slightly wider lace on hand that I was planning on using for the petticoat, but I could always go and buy more.  I think it will look nicer with the other choice.  Plus, on this particular seam I had to pick it apart and put it back together twice: Once because I got the pink and lace in the wrong order and the second time because I didn't pick up the inner liner.

Problem #4: The idea to put in an inner lining of muslin was one I thought to be inspired, but I've decided to drop the ambition.  I don't really think it's any better a lie than my last test bustier which just had the inner and outer lining of purple, plus it (1) makes everything more clumsy and (2) it makes the seams themselves unnecessarily bulky.  I will make a small, more conventional lining for the curve of the sweetheart neckline, but that's all.

So, in conclusion, I am going to try one more time, and improve in the following areas:

(1) Forget about the middle lining.
(2) Don't cut two pieces when I only need one.
(3) Be triple-quadruple careful cutting out my pieces and matching my inseams and making the two layers match properly in size.
(4) Use a better lace choice.
(5) Turn proper corners with my trim.

There are a few things that did work out in an encouraging way, though.  I think I'm getting fairly good at making darts that don't "bubble" or "pucker" on the bust.  The overall look of the bustier is inspiring, despite all the weaknesses, and check this out:

The lace on the hem looks amazing!!!!

(Hey, small victories, right?)

And so, we begin again.  I'm handling it better than I might have in the past.  That is to say, not crying.  I wish I could take a day or two or even a week off, but alas, I think I'm going to start pinning and cutting all over again as soon as I get home from work tomorrow.  I have exactly one month to finish this thing, and quite frankly, I'm starting to feel a wee bit panicked.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sew it Begins!

Oh, how I love puns...

Okay, A.D.D. moment over.  *ahem*

Tonight, I cut out the very first pieces of what I trust will be the final product.  BEHOLD:

This is the front and top of the bustier.  You see six pieces (4 lavender, 2 cream) because I am fully lining the bustier twice over.  The cream muslin will hide between the two outer pieces of satin to help give the bustier heft and a nice, smooth lie, and (I hope) help it to last a nice long time.

And here is pictured a small pile of almost all the final materials I needed to make this monstrosity (and therefore went out and bought).  The only things I know for sure I'm still missing are the grommets (eyelets) and the ribbon to tie it closed.  Which, I may just use the pink ribbon I bought for the puffed sleeves.  I don't think it's a point worth being picky about.

(As always, my cats approve of anything new).

Tomorrow I will keep cutting out pieces.  There are a lot of small pieces, and since I'm cutting everything out three times...well, let's just hope I don't make any mistakes*

(*any more mistakes, I should say, since I did start to cut out the back part of the bustier and completely forgot to include the shoulder strap.  Three cheers for homemade patterns!!! That's when I decided the above was far enough for one night.  Hehehe).  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rapunzel Skirt Embroidery Transfers, 1st Batch

Look! I have hand-outs!

As I promised many, many moons ago, I am herein providing scans of the drawings I made for the vertical embroidery on Rapunzel's skirt.  Anyone who finds this blog who is making their own Rapunzel costume is more than welcome to print and share.  They could be used for hand embroidery, as I have done, or for cutting and sewing on appliques, as I've seen other folks doing, or if you have one of those fancy-pants genius programmable embroidery machines, they might work for those as well.

The numbers I have written on each design represent the # of embroidery floss that I chose for my costume (3716 = pink, 211 = lavender, 340 = Indigo).  Just in case anyone was curious.  Obviously, you can choose your own colors but feel free to borrow those too, if you want.

Finally, those astute students of Rapunzel's skirt will note that there is one final design on the very bottom of her skirt which I did not draw because it didn't show up clearly on my print-out (darn black and white!).  Also, I had already reached the end of my own skirt anyway, so I decided just to leave it off.  Hey, this is not as exact science, much as I wish it were.  So just be aware, if you are a costume purist of a higher caliber than myself.

I will not be doing the embroidery along the hemline until after I get back from Dragon Con, but on that far distant day when I have drawn up some transfers for the hem embroidery as well, I will be sure to share it as a Batch 2.

Let me know if there are any questions, or if a link breaks or something.

Link to PDF File:
Design #1
Design #2

Design #3

Design #4

Design #5

Design #6
Design #7 & Design #8

Sleeve. Manga. Douille. Ärmel.

THIRTY-SEVEN DAYS.  As of this morning I have thirty-seven days to finish this costume!

(I know it probably seems like more than enough time, but there are so many details with this costume and I've got other things going on at the same time which makes it a very daunting prospect indeed from where I'm sitting).

Which is possibly what inspired me to wake up at 5:00 A.M. and finish the final sleeve test I began working on last night.  

It's still a bit poofier than I'd like, but certainly close enough.  I'm not 100% satisfied with the lower seam, either, the one attaching the lower sleeve to the upper, but tweaking that part, even with the real deal, is the easy part.

Which means, folks, that all the major pieces are in play.  This weekend, if all goes well, I am going to begin cutting and assembling the ACTUAL, HONEST-TO-GOODNESS BUSTIER OMGOSH!!!!

I will take beautiful pictures step-by-step, I assure you.  Expect many, many updates in the next five weeks.  Today, in fact, I am making a point to get my embroidery transfers uploaded so I can do a long-neglected update about how I've been doing the embroidery.

(Finally, for my reader who was asking about the brocade for sale, I left some comments in reply to your comments with information.  Let me know if that is not sufficient).

Friday, July 8, 2011

A shiny new toy.

In the immortal words of miss Kaywinnit Lee Frye:  "Look at the pretties!!"


I bought a dress form today.

Behold, the sum total of my progress!!

As you can see, the vertical embroidery is just about halfway done (should be exactly halfway done as of  this time tomorrow).  The jacket you see there is a test bustier.  I didn't bother with the "skirt" portion because I was focused on the shoulder straps.  I added that little purple cloth in the middle for modesty, since the entire front of her chest is split open and it's kind of weird.

The armholes are raw because they are awaiting the introduction of... *drumroll*


Yes, ladies and gentleman, I will finally be facing off against my next-biggest dragon that needs slaying. Custom fit puffed sleeves.  That is this weekend's project.  Whee!

The bigger point, though, is that now I can display my progress so conveniently! *hugs dress form*

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Other Costumes!!

Hello, everyone.

I knew this would happen.  I knew I would burst out the blogging cannon all blustery and energetic and then probably go pfffftzzz...

Well, what can I say? Besides reiterate the fact that I pile waaaaaay too much on my plate.

Exhibit A: The Sound of Music.

It's over now.  Has been for a week, and it's taken me just about that long to recover.  Certainly it took three whole days to reclaim some sort of ordinary sleeping pattern, and then with the long holiday weekend (I had Monday AND Tuesday off! Whee!!) I've gone and messed that up again.

I have a couple of good Rapunzel updates to make, one on my progress with the bustier and a general game plan from here to the deadline, and one on my embroidery (progress and technique), however, until the camera is returned from yonder places it was taken on someone's vacation, I cannot yet prepare the photos.

So, since this is a costuming blog, I decided to warm up the creaky old blog cogs by sharing a few photos of our cast (me included, of course!) in their costumes for The Sound of Music.*

The Sound of Music - Costumes and Fun

Here is my first costume as Baroness Elsa Schraeder, before hair, makeup, or shoes. I got a lot of compliments on that particular style combo!

Our Maria and Mother Abbess!

Two Von Trapp sisters: "Louisa" and "Marta"

Here is Marta again, pictured with her real life mom, who played Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper.

Nuns!!!!! (Or, as my brother the director collectively called them: "Nunyuns")

Me with the Von Trapp kids (sans Liesl)
Back row L to R: Louisa, Kurt, Friedrich
Front row L to R: Gretl, Marta, Briggita

"The Captain and I"
(Aren't we posh?)

Liesl and Gretl, waiting for their first entrance.

Rolf. This kid was responsible for christening me with my nickname among the cast: "Darth Schraeder" Apparently no matter what I do I have an affinity for Sith Lords...

My second of three costumes.  This one is for the party scene near the end of Act I.

And my final costume, which I'm wearing when the Captain and Elsa part ways.  Funnily, there was very little "magic" wearing this costume, because it's actually an outfit from my own closet, that I wear to my job on a frequent basis.

And that's that, folks! Look to be returned to the world of Rapunzel and purple satin later in the week! (Hey! That's some news! The plum satin for the center skirt panel arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago!)

*All of these photos were posted with permission of their subjects, including the parents of the minors.